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Review: locus plot (Peggy Baker Dance Projects)

April 26th, 2015

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locus plot_211458

Peggy Baker’s newest dance piece takes on mathematics as aesthetics on stage in Toronto

Veteran choreographer Peggy Baker has been creating dance in Toronto for more than forty years, but until now has only made shorter works, most of them solos. She’s an artist who understands the power of doing just what she means to do, no more and no less. It takes courage and intelligence to be that clear.

But with every choice she’s made over the last four decades, it seems that something else has been at work for Baker, something slowly building beneath the surface that’s now being let out.

On April 24, locus plot debuted at the Betty Oliphant Theatre, Baker’s first ever full evening ensemble performance, and her biggest, longest, and most ambitious work to date. What inspired this sudden, late career expansiveness? Mathematics.

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Review: The Love List (Encore Entertainment)

April 25th, 2015

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The Love List

The Love List, now playing in Toronto, is a “must-see for all lovers of light-hearted comedy.”

When was the last time you checked out an online dating service? Browse through the profiles and you’ll inevitably come across a sea of bullet lists describing each user’s must-haves. But is there really such thing as a perfect match?

Written by prolific Canadian playwright Norm Foster, The Love List takes a comedic look at one man’s attempt at finding his picture-perfect soul mate. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Hooked (Theatre Passe Muraille)

April 24th, 2015

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Nicky Guadagni in HOOKED. HOOKED written by Carolyn Smart, adapted by and starring Nicky Guadagni, directed by Layne Coleman. A Theatre Passe Muraille Production. In the TPM backspace April 16 - May 10.

Nicky Guadagni plays seven different women in this one woman show in Toronto

The full house of Theatre Passe Muraille’s Backspace was in great company Tuesday night for the premiere of Hooked. Based on poems by Carolyn Smart, Hooked delves into the lives of seven powerful women, including Myra Hindley, Unity Mitford, Zelda Fitzgerald, Dora Carrington, Elizabeth Smart, Carson McCullers and Jane Bowles, telling their stories from glorious, glamorous beginning to (often enough) unfortunate disappointing demise. These seven women, each carrying their own historical heft, were all gallantly played by one: Nicky Guadagni.

It’s a big burden for one actor to carry, but Guadagni does so with gumption and a mesmerizing stage presence that drew me in as soon as she stepped into the spotlight. Between the awed silence and bursts of laughter, it was obvious that I wasn’t the only one thoroughly enjoying getting well-acquainted with the production’s characters.

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Review: How a Cup of Coffee Got Me Fired (Laura Salvas)

April 24th, 2015

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Coffee Got Me Fired 5

Laura Salvas takes on cubicle culture and corporate soullnessness at Fraser Studios in Toronto

Laurie O’Brien (Laura Salvas) graduates York University with a Bachelor of Arts and enters the only job she is qualified for—data entry at “Beige Industries Inc”—in the new comedic look at cubicle culture, How a Cup of Coffee Got Me Fired playing at Fraser Studios. Laurie is eager to make a career for herself, though what she likes best about her workplace is the state-of-the-art coffee machine. The office environment soon turns toxic, and while Laurie blames the other members of her team, she is pretty poisonous herself. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Mouthpiece/Little Death (The RISER Project)

April 23rd, 2015

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Mouthpiece 1 photo credit Brooke Wedlock

Mouthpiece and Little Death take the stage at the Theatre Centre in Toronto as part of The RISER Project

I had the pleasure of seeing Mouthpiece and Little Death, two performances from The RISER Project by Why Not Theatre, in one night. The RISER Project is a collective effort to help small and independent theatre productions run their shows without the burden of financial costs. With the help of a $100,000 grant from the Toronto Arts Council’s Open Door Program, The RISER Project can shine the spotlight on some unexpected productions. There are four shows in this year’s line-up: Mouthpiece by Quote Unquote Collective, Little Death by Little Death Collective, Mahmoud by Pandemic Theatre, and Paolozzapedia by Bad New Days Performing Arts.

Mouthpiece is a performance piece starring Amy Nostbakken, Norah Sadava, and a bathtub. Nostbakken and Sadava both play the inner thoughts and expressions of one woman. The show goes through the day of this woman who has just experienced the loss of her mother as well as the loss of her voice. The dialogue jumps from the process of the woman arranging her mother’s funeral, to inside her mind where reality and imagination blend together.

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Review: Tom at the Farm (Buddies in Bad Times Theatre)

April 23rd, 2015

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Jeff Lillico Jeff Irving

“Intense” violence and grief takes centre stage at the Buddies in Bad Times Theatre in Toronto

Playing at Toronto’s Buddies in Bad Times TheatreTom at the Farm is the most stressful play I’ve seen in the past year. This troubling thriller about grief, deception, desire and homophobia was written by Michel Marc Bouchard and was poetically translated by renowned literary translator Linda Gaboriau. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Chandelier (Steven Cohen and Canadian Stage)

April 23rd, 2015

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Chandelier

Steven Cohen’s performance-art piece Chandelier on stage in Toronto sheds some unintended light

Here’s a question for you: ever wanted to see a micro-example of pervasive racism on a Canadian stage? Well, if you ask me, Canadian Stage’s Spotlight South Africa festival has the perfect show: Chandelier at Berkeley Street Theatre.

Performance artist Steven Cohen describes his work thusly: “by my moving in a chandelier-tutu through a squatter camp being demolished-and filming it–that’s what I’m doing…a digital painting of social reality…” Essentially, Cohen is attempting to “shed light on what is seldom seen, by creating amid destruction.”

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Cheap Theatre in Toronto for the Week of Apr 20th, 2015

April 21st, 2015

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Live Shows for $20 or Less

‘Tis cheap follies this week; there are eating competitions, fundraiser tele-thons, so why not a Sketch-a-thon? Bring lots of water and take breaks as needed! Enjoy!

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Toronto Play Listings for the Week of April 20, 2015

April 20th, 2015

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Shows That Caught Our Eye This Week

Nostalgia for classics is where it’s at this spring, with new takes on old tales. I hope they will strike your fancy, too. Or perhaps you’re curious about the South African theatre in town. I’ve highlighted the shows we’d love to see this week with two asterisks ** and in red text. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare {Abridged} (The Classical Theatre Project)

April 20th, 2015

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Toronto’s Classical Theatre Project combined Shakespeare with beer for a one-night performance

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare {Abridged} played twice on Saturday night, the latest event in The Classical Theatre Project‘s ShakesBeer series. The name is fairly self-explanatory: Shakespeare plus beer. As it turns out, those two things go very well together. Throw in talented performers, a great script, and some timely pop culture references, and you have a winning combination indeed. The one-act show was performed at Artscape Wychwood Barns, on a stage with a simple red-curtained backdrop, some simple lights and men in colourful tights. It was quite the sight to behold.

I wish I could tell you to go see it (because I would) but this particular production was just a one-night deal, so unless you were there laughing and drinking along at either performance, you missed the fun this time. Though fear not, if history is any indication then Shakespeare isn’t going away anytime soon. Neither, for that matter, is The Classical Theatre Project. Read the rest of this entry »